Saturday, 23 April 2011

What Rollerblading Has Taught Me About Life

Putting a fall before my pride, at long last I've strapped on my helmet and protective pads and took to my rollerblades. Righteous, dude...!

I'd love to say I was at one with my blades, gliding gracefully up and down the street, the blades just an extension of myself -- but I wasn't and they weren't. There, in the stillness of the street, I schmoozled along... rollerblading's equivalent of a tractor on a country lane. 

Thankfully the street itself isn't too wide, so I didn't cause any tailbacks. Cars drove past me without me falling over, kids zipped past me on their bikes and scooters, and people no doubt sniggered as they disappeared into the Redcar sunset.

But who cares? Not me. Ever persevering and ever so slightly, I'm starting to get the hang of it. Not that I can hit Redcar's pathways for a while yet, but practice will one day catapult me something above mediocre!

Meanwhile, not only am I learning how to use the blades. In the process, I'm learning not to care about:
  • if others think the worst - let them mock or criticise if they wish...
  • the time factor - all good things will come eventually
  • the age factor - you're never too old. 
Out there on my blades, I'm loving the experience, the learning, and I'm getting some much needed exercise. Never mind the X Factor: I've got the feel good factor! I feel alive!  

If you're in the 'I'd love to try that some day' predicament, act now instead of waiting for 'someday'. I wholeheartedly recommend it. 

Why wait any longer to hit that high?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

We're Gonna Be Elected

Just when I thought this blog was about to go bare today, somebody dropped some inspiration through my letterbox: a campaign letter for the local elections! Hurrah!

The election campaign is in full swing and the parties are out canvassing. Labour were the first to hear what I thought: that getting through my Cracker box set that Saturday afternoon was more important to me! 

Being a specialist in marketing texts, I welcomed this charming little leaflet which was offering me a free lesson in persuasive writing. In trying to win my vote it showed me a few do's and don't's.

Brownie points go to it for:
  • Homing in on people's main reasons to vote against other local parties. Some research has led to some decent copy.
  • Giving facts and figures.
  • Asking questions
  • Using simple language. There are some gorgeous phrases in there!
However, it gets parking tickets for:
  • 'Knocking' copy - though it's (rightly) taking a pop at other parties, it's also giving them free publicity.
  • A lack of anticipation - voters are cynical. Copy must address all possible objections.
  • Slightly sloppy punctuation - sometimes the rules can be ignored, others they can't. Funny old game is writing, innit!
Though this leaflet hasn't won my vote, it's certainly done my writing some good. The others will as well.

So hey, parties might not have figured out their purpose yet, but maybe they can still serve us. I just hope their election leaflets and letters are being printed on recycled paper though...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Communication Breakdown!

Wouldn't it be cool if animals could talk?

I say this after two weeks with my brother-in-law's adorable King Charles spaniel. I admit I've grown slightly attached to the little lady.

This is odd coming from me. I'm not even a remotely doggy person and, unfortunately, I have a wariness of man's best friend that causes me to misunderstand them.

When I'm putting my arms to stop the dog from jumping up, poor old Fido is thinking 'Playtime!'. If it playfully bares its fangs, I start thinking which songs I'd like played at my funeral (so far on the play list I have 'Hotel California' by the Eagles!).

The other problem is I can't tell if a dog is:
  • hungry?
  • desperate for walkies?
  • dying for the loo?
  • something else?
So when the dog looks at me with big brown eyes, saying I could murder some Pedigree Chum. Be a love and put some in a dish for me, would you?, I fasten the dog's lead to its collar and out we go.

If animals could talk, that would be awesome. Dogs could then reassure me: 'Calm down, mate. I'm not gonna hurt you', or 'If you don't let me out right now, it's gonna get messy in here.'

Seagulls and pigeons could warn us before dropping their splatter bombs: 'Lady, watch out!'

Just imagine the sea creatures... 

Great whites could apologise to divers: 'Sorry... My mistake. Thought you were a seal. Actually, you haven't seen any round here, have you? I'm starving'... 

Jellyfish could let us know where they were before we stepped on them: 'Mind your feet to the left or you'll get a nasty sting'...

Or seals might want to work together with us: 'If you see anything you think might be a shark, let me know so I can swim to shore.'

There's a dog barking out the back. I think he wants me to stop gossiping about his friends. Or maybe to put the kettle on... Who knows.
Until next time, then!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Olden Goldies!

Are you struggling to get into today's music as much as I am?

The last good thing I heard was probably 'Cigarettes in the Theatre' by Two Door Cinema Club. That's about as 'with it' as I get when it comes to music. Hell, even now I sound like I'm punching above my weight (roughly 11.5st)!

If it's not a synthesiser-heavy classic from the 80s, 90s or early noughties, or not sung by a rocker with a mullet, I feel like I've been woken up by a fire alarm in the middle of the night. Which happened a fair few times in my first year at uni, incidentally!

But what I'd really like to ask you, though, is if there's a song that brings back a particular memory for you. Perhaps there's one from your childhood, teens or early adulthood that, for some reason, you can't get out of your head lately?

For me, it's 'What's Up?', by 4 Non-Blondes. Takes me back to one summer in particular, and it always seemed to be playing somewhere in the background. I was twelve years old at the time: I wore a shell suit and side spike. I still had a lot to learn about fashion...

Me and mates, we'd head down to the 'Tarzi' on our bikes and take turns to swing around on it above the beck (or 'stream' in non-Northerner speak). The rest of us, we'd all stand watching with baited breath to see if the rope snapped. I'm sure deep down someone was hoping it would snap on me (but it never did, so ha!) !

I think I'm gonna go out for a walk now - just down Memory Lane, though. So I'll leave you with my four brunettes from yesteryear for company.

Monday, 4 April 2011

What Did You Just Call Me?

'I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude.'

This gloriously hateful line was allegedly posted online by Alain de Botton after a scathing review of his latest book at the time The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

Coming from such a serene thinker, t'is most unusual. Normally, Big Al shows us how philosophy can help us deal with this kind of thing ... illustrates how it can make our lives easier. That's why his work is so refreshing - and why the comment above is so surprising. 

But if you were a writer and had been on the end of a jolly rotten review, how would you have dealt with it?

Going back, there used to be a time when harsh words hurt me. Now I just take them on the chin instead. Picture Robocop marching down a street, all the bullets richocheting off his armour, ping after ping. I try to be like that.

With plasters, bandages and Surgical Spirit all at the ready, I willfully accept any criticism of this blog. Be as cutting or as gentle as you like. Then I can get my trusty writer's toolbox out afterwards and give it a damned good tweaking for the better!

I reckon writers should take a leaf out of my book, or page out of my website as it were, and use negative feedback to make them stronger.

They say the truth hurts.

Yet at the same time, they also say it sets you free.

I know which one I prefer!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Feed my Frankenstein!

A good Friday afternoon to you!

Today I'd like to go back to that old chestnut of inspiration (or bang on about it some more, if you prefer!)

But this time it's you I want to inspire me.

Normally I get my fodder for this beloved blog of mine from:
  • the news
  • anecdotes and experiences from everyday life
  • random comments from others
  • blogs
  • anything else that makes pucker online tucker.
Fine and dandy as they are, I'd love to know the things you like to read. What would you like me to write about? 

Here are a few questions to get you thinking:
  • Do you like the current light-hearted approach, or would you prefer something more serious?
  • Do you like the topics so far?
  • Do I sound too much like I'm preaching from a soapbox, or is it okay for me to exorcise a few demons once in a while?
  • What about the writing - is it stale and in need of livening up a bit, or do you find it fresh, crisp and uplifting?
  • How can I make it better?  
I'm a fan of storytelling, myself, so I look for a balance between topical or reflexive and light-hearted, enjoyable and, of course, original (how original!).

I want this blog to be as fun for you to read as it is for me to write. If I have my wicked way, you'll be itching to read the next entry!

So I'll appreciate any feedback - good or bad- you can give me on this Frankenstein of mine.

I'll just go and check on the oven, in the meantime ....